tv The Communicators CSPAN April 17, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
unsustainable debt, and a bleak future for our kids and grandkids. we must not leave our children a country more in debt and worse off than we found it. it is our obligation to act now to put a stop to this. america is at a critical pope of decision making. we are a nation at a crossroads. it is up to each of us to determine what kind of country we want to be. down one path is a democratic $1 trillion overhaul. a stimulus law that fails to meet expectations for job creation. the taxpayer-funded bailout for private companies. a cap and trade policy that will impose a massive energy tax upon all americans. all of these are costly policies that seize more control over the economy and our lives. the goal -- to remake america in the image of europe.
but, take hope, down the other path is responsible, adult leadership, focused firmly on job creation and economic opportunity. we believe in a congress that will once again listen to the people and return america to the country they know and love. we believe in a limited, but effective government, that provides a safety net for those who need it most, but sets no limits on opportunity or achievement. we believe that it is not enough to just talk about ending government waste. you have to take action so that we can begin to be raised our deficits and free our children from our debt. rather than putting the squeeze on our nation's job greeters and entrepreneurs, we believe in a pro-growth strategy to create jobs and empower the american entrepreneur and small businesses to thrive.
this is our choice. i am eric cantor. on behalf of my republican colleagues, please know that we cure your concerns and we will work hard to get washington working for you once again. thank you. >> tomorrow on "newsmakers," steny hoyer talks about democratic leadership priorities for congress and prospects for bipartisanship between now and the 2010 midterm election. he is interviewed by someone from the new york times. see it live tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. eastern on c- span. >> the vetting process has begun for a new supreme court justice. you can use our video library to find background information on possible nominees, including the governor of michigan, janet napolitano, and other names reported by the media on the short list.
searched it, watch it, clip it, and share its. the c-span video library -- cable's latest gift to america. >> this week on "the communicators," we take a look at how the state department wants to use to -- use technology to advance to pose a me -- to invest diplomacy. our guest today is alec ross. >> alec ross, describe your job. >> my job and my team have the job of driving innovation into america's foreign policy and figure of how to maximize the potential of technology in diplomacy. >> give us an example. >> i will give you a couple of very quick examples. there are things we are doing in mexico to the congo to siberia. in siberia, for example, we have a strategic dialogue with russia.
if you think about the cold war, innovation was something that we competed with the russians on. in fact, if one of the nation's was perceived -- one of the nation's was perceived as losing. it is now a resource in has cooperation. we are building ties between the russian government and the private sector and the american government and the american private sector. by working together, we leverage our country's resources. we can produce scientific and technological breakthroughs that otherwise would not happen. that is a positive example of what the innovation agenda could look like. another side of it is fighting against bad guys and dealing with some of the threats that are in the world. one thing that has been very much in the news lately are the problems related to field crime in mexico. we are doing -- working cooperatively with the government of mexico to put in
place technology programs that allow mexican citizens to anonymously report crime the a text message -- via text message and restore anonymity and accountability back to crime fighting. >> and the condo? >> this is a case of a place that has been enormously challenging for decades. i was there not long ago. it has a per capita gdp of $184. 50 cents of economic output per person per day. in east congo, there are rampant levels of violence, particularly sexual in gender-based violence. progress has been slow. we're working very hard, but it is very hard to make progress. there are a handful programs. one is to try to bring mobile banking into the region, so that the region becomes less cash- based.
cash-based economies are ones with a disproportionately high levels of crime and corruption. we are trying to use the telecommunications infrastructure that is there. in a place with that per-capita gdp, there is actually a fairly robust wireless telecommunications infrastructure. we are trying to use that to provide information directly to women and families so that they can protect themselves when they are -- when there are bad guys nearby. we want them to be less vulnerable to malicious or those that would exploit them. >> is this the first time -- the first time this position has been created? >> the secretary, but -- about becoming secretary of state, she did this early on, and she alluded to this during her confirmation, increasingly, it is the case that we live in a
world that is less bound by the vast distances and traditional national boundaries. one thing she did from the outset was create a space for technology and innovation in her office and throughout the department. she brought myself and a variety of other people in to create an innovation agenda with her at the state department. she is its godmother. she calls it 21st century statecraft. >> issue technologically capable. -- is she technologically capable? >> sure. you did not need to be a software engineer. that could be at a disadvantage, if what you're trying to do is figure out how technology -- mainstream technology, particularly -- can be used in the service of global challenges. i was a history major, for example. most of my colleagues in the
tape made of -- in the technology and innovations based in the obama administration actually have backgrounds such that we're all technologically literate in the conventional sense, but we're not a coders. what we understand is how to use these tools in the service of our diplomatic goals. secretary clinton is a perfect example of someone who -- she does not have a technical background, but she is brilliant about how to weave together technology and innovation into our foreign policy. >> alec ross, one of the things we've talked about in your position as senior adviser for innovations is internet freedom. in a speech, you said that 2009 was the worst year ever for internet freedom. why? >> i said it because, unfortunately, it is true. it internet freedom is something that used to be this little, obscure piece of foreign policy
arcanum. throughout 2009, there were a number of very bad trends that we saw worsening. in particular, the degree to which governments censored the internet. it is increasingly the case in literally dozens of countries -- everybody focuses on iran and china, but it is the case in literally dozens of countries or the internet is increasingly looking like an inranet. -- where the internet is increasingly looking like an intranet. there were some ground-breaking remarks at town hall meeting at shanghai, where he addressed this. he said, "the more freely information flows, the stronger the society." he spoke about internet freedom. two months later, secretary clinton, on january 21, given
absolutely paradigm-shifting speech about internet freedom. she made clear that american values related to things like freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press -- these things that we value must extend into the digital age. 2009 was a very bad year. because of the president and secretary clinton, 2010 -- we're beginning to shift some of those trends. >> joining us also is aliya sternstein, a correspondent with the publication nextgov.com. >> going back into that freedom -- your boss decided to revive the global internet freedom task force. as i understand, last month, the task force was renamed. >> the net freedom task force --
much more modern. but it had its first meeting. what are they up to now? >> the secretary announced a series of deliverable in her speech on january 21. in addition to what i thought was incredibly important rhetoric and incredibly important policy statements, she put a number of programs out there. a great many people are now working to fulfill the vision that she and the president have set out. what you described is one of them -- the net freedom task force. we have to go undersecretaries of state -- robert hormats and maria otero, who are both incredibly season and gifted as executives. mario was the ceo of the majorian organization and robert hormats was a longtime executive
of goldman sachs. they are co-chairing this initiative, the purpose of which is to create a framework for shared responsibility with the private sector. there is a lot that can be done on the internet freedom space. it can be done government-t o- government. the private sector is a primary factor in the space. it is notable that the secretary did not call for statutes. she did not make a call for there to be specific, short term legislative action. what she did call for was shared responsibility with the private sector on this issue. undersecretary otero and undersecretary fhormats have began a process of engagement with the private sector so that people can understand our values and work with us in that context.
>> are you sensing that there is a concern among some american companies about backlash because of this new internet freedom agenda? that the companies will be economically-challenge or their employees overseas could be retaliated against? where do you draw the line between protecting human rights and engaging in good, diplomatic relief? >> you went to the heart of the issue. part of why it is so complicated is that it is a security issue, an economic issue, and human rights issue. all of those things wound into one. the response from the private sector has been great. we've heard very clearly from the private sector that they want clarity. what they want is for there to be a sense of community standards that they can all work within. it has been very positive and
very productive. i think that the companies that participated in the first net freedom task force meeting felt very good about it. the directions i have had have been extremely good. -- the interactions i have had a been extremely good. they want to work with us on the rules of the road. they do not want to have to guess. >> what kind of standards are you agreeing upon? >> it is chapter 1, page one. it is the beginning of the process. we have had one meeting. it would be presumptuous of me to say what this specific will be or what this standard will be. there have to be a very clear process. we have set out a very clear process. it is going to be collaborative between the private sector and government. >> alec ross, we talked about it wrong a little bit. we saw the twitter -- which of about iran -- we talked about
iran a little bit. we saw the twitters coming out of there. how can government blocked this? and that it is a fast-living space. it changes month-to-month and in some cases week-to-week. >> whether it is wired or wireless, it all flows through global communications networks. there are things that can be done on a technical level to block content, to filter content out of the networks. there are, for example, something akin to 200 billion e- mails sent every day. surgically pulling out content or felt during content is very difficult. what we saw in iran was the most extreme version of this. let's talk about june, 2009, and
their board, 2010. in june, 2009, there was a very well-known post-election aftermath, in which the resistance really organized itself over social media, over a connection -- per connection technologies. what we saw between june of 2009 and february, 2010, was an increasing sophistication of the iranians. on the anniversary of the resolution -- revolution, just to come months ago -- a lot of people anticipated that there would be enormous protests that would equal or exceed what had taken place last june. what we saw was that the iranian government had closed down -- flipped the switch on communications networks. the turn of satellite television. they turned off cellular networks. they turned off the internet.
what are spokesman, p.j. crowley said, was that it was in essence, an information blockade. when the government has a willingness to complete the shutdown communications in its country, that is nearly unprecedented. >> can governments still do that, even with the internationalness of the internet and technology? i say that because of north korea. we hear so many reports about north koreans have been cell phones and other forbidden technology in that nation. a lot more information is coming out. >> that is right. in the case of north korea, as has been reported, the border with china does get an opportunity for some people in north korea to access wireless networks that they otherwise would not be able to. there is a lot of evidence in the public domain that says that in places where there are borders and were wireless
signals do not necessarily recognize a natural border, there are opportunities for people to get information and content to the other -- that others cannot. a lot of this comes down to will. if the government has the will to shut down its networks, then it is very hard to work around that. one thing secretary clinton said in her internet freedom speech on january 21st was that we were not just going to sit back and allow this. forgetting about iran for a moment, but thinking about this globally, it is very important to remember that there are dozens of countries who have less than terrific internet freedom records. one of the things that the secretary announced was that the united states is going to -- has been increasingly supporting efforts to allow grassroots organizations and citizens
themselves to circumvent government censorship. business and then the state department has supported for a number years, -- this is something that the state department has supported for a number of years, but was not spoken about publicly until january. she has put an increasing level of investment and focus into providing tools and resources to citizens around the globe so that they can freely access the internet, websites of their own choosing, and each other. she calls this the freedom to connect. >> let's take another example. china. it is often seen shutting down websites and preventing information from reaching its citizenry. china works with the u.s. on so many other areas. google is pulling out of china. how do you diplomatically d43q53 -- create internet freedom in
china and not take the government on? >> we have a very comprehensive partnership with china. it is one that i would argue is caustive. we have had some disagreements. we continue to have candid, constructive conversation with the chinese government. put google aside for a moment. it is like catnip for the press. it gets a lot of attention. what that -- what matters far more than one company or one country is how we can engage diplomatically. one thing we're doing because of the president's leadership and the secretary of state's leadership is that this is now something that is at the table diplomatically. the united states's best diplomatic resources, more so than what we do to support brasher circumvention and
evarts, more so than what we can do in a more antagonistic fashion, is engaging across the table with our counterparts. we continue to engage the chinese. i'm hopeful and optimistic that there will be progress in the years ahead in this area. >> this is c-span's "the communicators by day with our guest alec ross. -- "the communicators," with our guest alec ross. >> you started about technology as a way to drive economy. haiti -- the country is on the immediate consciousness of the americans after the earthquake in january. wright afterwards, the united states worked hard to get a communications network out there, especially with mobile telephones.
while americans seem to have forgotten about what is going on down there, it sounds like the american government is still heavily supporting both the telecommunications and also health care for the haitians. could you talk more about what you're doing with the cell phones? >> i appreciate the question. it is interesting to me how isolated we are. the earthquake is fading from the consciousness of the american citizens. where i work, i have to be honest with you, it is a big deal. the commitment from this administration to work in partnership with the haitian government so that, hopefully, the haitian society can grow stronger in the future -- that commitment is incredibly strong. i think that one of the things that we did at the outset in haiti, through things like the program that is the department set up through which the
american people could text the word "haiti" to a short code to raise more than $30 million for the red cross -- from that to working with the u.s.a.i.d. and telecommunications providers to restore communications to the island, to the present moment -- one of the areas of focus has been on thinking about the role of the 21st century infrastructure in the redevelopment of haiti. i think it is important to not be sort of a cyber-utopian or technology-utopian. a lot of people think the cell phone can be a powerful instrument corp. edged -- for economic and educational empowerment. i believe that. however, there are many other structural issues in haiti that also need to be attended to. issues relating to food security and educational infrastructure, the health care infrastructure. i think that technology and
telecommunications in particular can be a tool in the rebuilding of haiti, but my own sense of our strategy in this area it is that there are some very basic building blocks of infrastructure that the haitian people and the haitian government are focusing on, like their health care infrastructure in food security. -- and food security. i think a technology -- i think of technology and telecommunications as a tool. >> aliya sternstein. >> how is technology a tool for facilitating education and food security and health care? >> in each of those cases, i think that most of this is to be determined. last week was my one-year anniversary of working at the state department. the first day i came to work, there were 4.1 billion mobile
handsets on the planet. literally, one year later, there are 4.6 billion. in the course of just one year, that is an additional half billion mobile handsets. 75% of those have been in the developing world. it is just now that we're really pass the tipping point of global connectedness. the challenge is to go directly to what you're saying -- how can telephones be used for more than making phone calls? let's take education for i example. educational resources are scarce in a lot of places. there's an opportunity to use that as a distance-learning channel. we're at the very beginning of making investments to look into that area. the state department is preparing closely with our development partner, with u.s.a.i.d., which is to say, let's not naively say, a cell
phone in an of itself can be aware that people can become educated. rather, the thinking and pedagogy that goes into developing in the curriculum or learning device, ought to now be applied to this little piece of personal infrastructure that people in haiti or sub-saharan africa or bangladesh can use for education. i will give you one example. it is not an american example. is this something that the -- it is something that the bbc did. they created a program through which people can learn to speak english over a cell phone. the pilot did it -- they piloted it in bangladesh. they had over 200,000 people learning english in a week. >> as cloud computing becomes more prevalent, how does that
play and what you do? >> the whole notion of cloud computing, ticking processing power and evolving it from desktops, to figure to of clouds, has a couple of implications. taking inerne -- take internet freedom -- where the content lives and where the servers are is now relevant to internet freedom. web-based e-mail -- g. mail -- g-mail is the best example of content in a cloud. it involves the state of our and because things like a government -- the state department, because things like of government deciding to investigate without due process. if the e-mail lives in the cloud, who has dominion over it?
is it the company, a country, the citizen of the country who is accessing the e-mail if the e-mail lives on servers in silicon valley? is it an american and the servers are in india? is it the property of the indians? there is a whole new body of privacy and intellectual property work that is to be discovered as the web becomes increasingly cloud-based. >> have those issues risen practically? >> not much. it is beginning to get there. one of the things that was notable, again going back to secretary couldn't of speech and internet freedom, is that it took -- secretary clinton the's speech on internet freedom, is that took this subject from obscurity to something that now
prime minister and foreign minister and princess so when so have to work on. -- so and so have to work on. the week after the internet freedom address, i was in bahrain visiting with ministers of communication for an -- from more than a dozen middle eastern countries. their reaction to america's new leadership on the internet freedom realm was not so much positive or negative as it was, oh, my goodness, we need to get really smart on that. we need to examine our policies and think about the implications for our country, particularly in an economic sense. >> is there an international organization that is trying to formulate guidelines? >> there are two that stick out. one is the international community --